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Java Junkie

Chapter Text

The blog had been accident mostly. If one could start a blog accidentally.

She’d already had the account, for the sole purpose of following a few other blogs she found interesting, but had never actually posted anything. The confusion and occasional outrage of her friends, she had virtually no online presence. Oh sure, she had a page of her own on that site everyone seemed to be on, if only because her friends had politely asked her to get one so they could contact her more easily (why texting or calling was an issue she would never know,) but she hadn’t bothered to update the damn thing for the better part of six months. Nothing particularly interesting enough ever seemed to happen for her to feel the need to post it for the world to see. Besides that, she liked her privacy. Partially for a sense of safety and partially just because she enjoyed solitude. Not so strange, she thought.

What was strange, was that for someone who enjoyed solitude and quiet as she did, she had gone and chosen the two most boisterous, raucous people in Thedas to share a flat with. When Sera and Dorian weren’t loudly arguing, they were drunkenly singing dramatic duets together (one or two they had even made up themselves and promptly forgotten the next morning.) Thankfully, while they had active love lives, they were polite enough to be discreet about it, and she at least was not subject to having to deal with a string of lovers and significant others alike at all hours. The most that ever happened was the occasional awkward conversation with someone who’d stayed the night on the rare days she woke early and ran into them. She could count on one hand the number of times that had occurred.

While today had been blessedly free of arguments, it had indeed devolved into drinking and increasingly loud laughter, and when Sera had pulled up the karaoke game on their in-remarkably-good-condition system, Ellana had thrown in the towel and elected to leave the flat in favor of the overpriced coffee shop on the corner. They’d roped her into playing once, and she’d woken with few memories of the previous night, a pounding headache, and her pillow somehow quite literally glued to her face. She tended to keep her distance when they broke out the drinking games now.

Which was how she’d ended up in the warmly lit, sparsely populated bistro, overpriced coffee next to her open laptop, headphones lilting out soothing jazz to her wounded ears. She hadn’t quite left fast enough to escape Sera’s first deliberately off-key notes in an attempt to annoy her for leaving rather than joining their rambunctious behavior. A little sigh escaped her as the site loaded. Perhaps she was being to harsh upon them. She loved Dorian and Sera really, they just got under skin - and enjoyed doing so. But their strange relationship often brought a fond smile to her face, and in truth they both knew how to help her relax when she got too stressed, which happened frequently of late. Due to this damnable blog.

The blog, which again, she insisted mentally to no one in particular, had been an accident.

It had been one of the rare days where everything lined up, she had the day off from her job at the bookstore, Dorian and Sera had been off doing who knows what, and she had had some blessed time to herself in their cramped apartment. She’d intended to get some cleaning done, fold laundry and the like. Instead she’d somehow wound up in front of her laptop clicking through blog after blog on one of those internet wanders that everyone gets lost in from time to time. She also absolutely did not get into occasional staring contests with the unfolded pile of laundry beside her chair. In any case, at some point she’d found herself on a baker’s blog, and to her initial delight, it was practically devoid of the near expected life’s story that came before each recipe. In fact, the author revealed little to no information about themselves at all, offering a few bits of advice before diving right in, or even some history on the origin of the food itself, which she found interesting. She was however, a bit disgusted by the recipes themselves.

They were positively drowned in sugar.

She’d never seen recipes that seemed intent on giving someone cavities before, but she had to believe that was the author’s intent here. The first one had been a simple, if a bit sweet for her taste cake recipe, but it had quickly devolved until she was staring in fascinated horror at the screen as each monstrosity was laid out in meticulous detail. Really, who put candies into a pie? And...oh Creators, it was four different types of candies. She was going to vomit.

She’d nearly closed the blog and resigned herself to menial chores, but had decided to look once more at the original cake recipe which had brought her to the blog that surely belonged to a witch who lured sweet-toothed children into the woods, and thought she could maybe improve upon it. Make it less nauseatingly sweet first of all, maybe add a coffee flavor to it, use dark chocolate instead of milk, and…

Soon after she’d been covered in flour and various other ingredients, a cake of her own creation that was really nothing like the original baking in her oven, a satisfied smile on her face. Dorian and Sera had arrived home shortly after it was finished, and had nearly scalded their mouths when they didn’t heed her warning to let it cool first. Nevertheless, it had been a hit, and they’d insisted she save the recipe somewhere. She’d been so proud of it they’d even convinced her to post it on her barren blog, and to her great surprise many others had tried the recipe themselves. And then asked if she’d had any more.

Cooking, it turned out, she was pretty good at. She tried all manner of recipes, from light breakfasts to rich desserts, greatly enjoying putting her own spin on a number of them and slightly improving other tried and true favorites to suit her own tastes. That other people enjoyed them too was a surprise, given that she tended to enjoy her food more bitter or spicy than most seemed to, but it was a welcome one. The unfortunate fall out was that once she’d gained a following, people had asked to know more about her, as she’d elected not to write the long winded stories before her recipes that a lot of blogs did, and in the end she’d started writing personal posts every Thursday about any number of things. Her thoughts on current events, recommendations for restaurants, even book reviews. Which had sparked another blog event, wherein she answered questions her readers sent in every Monday, and then she’d been coerced into getting a profile on some site for aesthetic photos, so now she posted pictures of her culinary creations every week. Her following grew larger, and before she knew it she’d become something of an internet figure, even if she never revealed her face or real name (a few of her followers said the air of mystery was enjoyable itself, which hadn’t been her intention, but, well…) She went by the username JavaJunkie, and many of her followers had taken to calling her JJ, which Ellana had to admit she found endearing.

Weeks had passed before she remembered the strange blog that had started the whole thing to begin with, and only because another follower brought them up. Apparently the sugar-happy blogger went only by the name F.H., though with the wolf themes that were subtly thrown into his profile and posts, the reference wasn’t hard to catch. He was evidently something of an internet star himself, even if Ellana didn’t really consider herself one. He, like her, kept his name and face hidden from view, also explaining to his followers that he simply enjoyed his privacy and asked that they respect it. For the most part they did, like her own, with the occasional overly inquisitive annoyance that was easily pushed away. Evidently the two of them had been painted as something akin to rivals by their followers, due to their similar personalities but totally different recipe choices. He also had days dedicated to certain themes with his own blog, writing dedicated restaurant reviews on Tuesdays and slightly more personal posts on Thursdays, like herself. A couple fans of one or both of their blogs tried to claim that one of them was copying the other - and one particular extremist amused her by positing that they were the same person - but she and F.H. each replied to these posts with polite denials, and she even had a brief conversation with him in the replies of one of her posts. They took a few good-natured jabs at each others’ cooking, to the delight of their followers, and vaguely suggested the idea of possibly doing some sort of competition at some point before real life had torn them both away from the conversation and it had been buried in the comments and for the most part forgotten. The friendly rivalry continued, and she would occasionally wander over to his blog to make some comment about the obscene amount of sugar he’d added to some confectionary - he was mostly fond of baking - and he would respond with a light hearted insult about her liberal use of spices.

Overall, she enjoyed the experience really, but it was a hassle at times. What little alone time she had felt even more compressed now, since Dorian and Sera’s work schedules had shifted due to a coworker transferring. She had a scant few hours a week to herself, and so writing about her personal life had gotten a bit stressful. She needed somewhere quiet she could go when the world got too loud.

The coffee shop was actually an enjoyable atmosphere, despite the prices, and she was just starting to think maybe she would come more often when the chair across the table from her booth scooched backward, the noise of it jolting her from her thoughts. Her fingers paused over the keyboard she’d been typing away at as she glanced up to see who had interrupted her work. She didn’t recognize the face of the human man, but he was giving her a friendly smile and politely waiting for her to remove her headphones so she could hear him. She slid them off her head with raised eyebrow.

“Hi, sorry to bother you,” he said sheepishly, seeming to actually feel apologetic in the moment. “I noticed this seat wasn’t taken, do you mind if I sit here?”

Puzzled, Ellana took a glance around the quaint bistro, certain it had been relatively empty a minute ago...and indeed it still was, plenty of empty tables and chairs spread around the space, only a handful of other patrons about.

“Uh...well, yeah actually, I do,” she replied uncertainly. “But there are some empty tables over there, maybe you could take one of those seats?” she suggested, thinking maybe he had somehow not seen the empty chairs.

“Oh no, I saw them, I just thought you looked like you could use some company,” he said, and his smile widened into what she then realized was a flirtatious one, and he tried to sit down. Instinctively, she curled her ankles around the legs of the chair still under the table and pulled it sharply forward before he could, inadvertently wrenching the backrest from his grip as she did so.

“No thank you,” she responded, attempting to sound polite despite her growing irritation. True, maybe she shouldn’t have come to a public place if she wanted privacy, but who saw someone with headphones on and thought they’d like to chat? Really.

The man looked briefly surprised by her somewhat rough rebuke, but smiled again, undeterred. “Hey, I’m just trying to be friendly.”

“Not looking for friends,” she replied, slipping her headphones back on, hoping he would take the hint and go.

He did not.

Not only did he put his hand on her arm, he actually reached over and took her headphones back off. Shocked as she was by the audacity, she didn’t immediately think to slap his hand away. “Y’know, I’m just trying to make polite conversation with a pretty lady, there’s no reason to be so hostile.”

Aware they would soon gain an audience if she lost her cool, Ellana took a slow breath, met the human’s eyes, and gave him the sweetest smile she could muster as she leaned toward him slightly.

“Remove your hand,” she said in a deceptively soft voice. “Before I break it.” His hand flinched back in fear. “Now, please. Go away.”

“Fine, fine,” he said in an exasperated voice, throwing up his hands as though she’d been the one giving him a hard time. “Freak,” he muttered as he walked away to sulk at an empty table.

“Yep, that’d be me,” she said snarkily under her breath as she picked up her discarded headphones once more, and heard the patron at the table next to her give a small snort before she slipped them back on.

She cast a covert glance to the elven customer sitting kitty corner to her, in a chair facing the long booth she was seated on, at the table to her right. The corner of his mouth was quirked up in amusement, presumably at her altercation, though she couldn’t be certain. It was quite possible he was amused by whatever he was gazing at on the screen in front of him, his own laptop open and facing him. She hadn’t noticed him before, only absently noting the bald man seated at the table, assuming he was quite a bit older than her, but now that she saw his face she realized he wasn’t at all. He could be ten years her senior perhaps, but likely no more. A curious jawbone pendant rested against his button down shirt, and half rimmed glasses perched on his nose. Handsome, she supposed, before returning to her blog post, allowing smooth jazz to relax her once more.

Towards the end of her post, perhaps twenty minutes later, she glanced up once more, and was surprised to see him do the same. They both seemed momentarily startled, before she gave him a hesitant smile, which he returned, before they each returned to their respective screens. She lost herself in her work for a time, and when she glanced up again he’d gone, unnoticed by her. A few minutes later she got up to head home as well, pretending that she hadn’t noticed the stranger had pretty eyes.

The fact that she ended up at the coffee shop again at the same time the following week was entirely a coincidence. Really, it was.

It was her day off again, and unfortunately also Sera and Dorian’s, and loathe as she was to admit it, she really did like the overpriced coffee at that damn café. Were she to drink it all the time, it would put a hole in her budget large enough to make her wince, but once a week wasn’t so bad, and it was the day after she got paid, which happened in the middle of the week unlike most people, so it left the little shop largely unoccupied, and the atmosphere gave her just the right mood for writing, despite her previous encounter with the annoying human, and so she was back. And it had absolutely nothing to do with pretty eyes or surprisingly full lips quirked into a charming half-grin.

Ellana wasn’t entirely sure who it was she was trying to convince, but it seemed very important that she do so.

She relayed her order for a spiced latte to the curly-haired barista, and watched in amused fascination as she and the large qunari behind the bar maneuvered around each other with practiced ease. The space was barely large enough for the man’s horns to even fit, but he managed it without so much as grazing them on anything. Caught up in watching as she was, the human barista had to call her name twice before she grabbed her drink from the counter.

While she refused to admit that she’d purposely been avoiding it until now, Ellana finally glanced toward the seat she’d occupied last week, which was empty, and in the chair beside and across from it was the same man who’d been there before. Well, it could have been some other bald headed elf, given as she couldn’t see his face from this angle, but that seemed unlikely.

Fighting down the urge to smile, Ellana strode over to the booth, getting her laptop and headphones set up, and very pointedly not looking at the man next to her. And maybe she was being immature and foolish, but it seemed to her that he was very pointedly not doing the same. She managed to get her site pulled up, take a few sips of her latte, and even get a whole paragraph typed before she finally risked a glance in his direction. He was wearing a soft looking long sleeved shirt today, and she noted the jaw bone necklace still was present. She also realized he had freckles before she turned her gaze back to her screen.

Once or twice, she was fairly certain she felt his eyes on her, but when she looked up he was focused entirely on whatever he was working on, and she pretended she wasn’t a little bit disappointed. After all, she’d come her for the atmosphere and the annoyingly good coffee, right? There was nothing to feel dejected about. Nope, nothing at all.

Around an hour and a half later, Ellana decided her post was as finished as it was going to get, and closed her laptop after submitting it. She quietly gathered her things together, not wanting to disturb the other patrons, and after stowing her laptop in her bag, and zipping it closed, she decided to allow herself one childish glance at the man across from her. To her surprise, he was looking right at her. They shared another moment of brief surprise, but after a moment she gave him a small smile, her hand twitching in an aborted wave. He returned the gesture with a little nod before turning back to his laptop as she left the booth.

Her smile grew as she left the shop, though it quickly morphed into a scowl when she wondered why her face was warm and realized she was actually blushing.

She was maybe, ever so slightly, in trouble.

It was a bit harder to convince herself the following Thursday was mere chance.

True, she and her roommates still had the same day off, but the two had plans for the entire day, so there was really nothing keeping her from making her blog post in the comfort of her own home. Hell, she was more than capable of making a latte right here - she had even posted a recipe for one some weeks ago. Nevertheless, she continued to put it off, pretending she kept checking the time for no particular reason, and managed to even get some chores around the apartment done. Which was a good thing, she supposed.

Finally, with a sigh, she relented and dressed to head down to the coffee shop. The weather was beginning to grow even cooler, so a scarf and knit sweater were necessary. The fact that she’d chosen one of her nicer sweaters had nothing to do with the freckled stranger who probably wasn’t going to be there anyway.

As it turned out, he indeed was not, Ellana noted after turning from the curly-haired barista who handed her her drink with a bright smile. She glanced over the two tables they normally sat at, and her heart maybe sank just a bit when she saw his seat was empty, not even so much as a book to suggest that the space was taken and its occupant was merely away for the moment. Trying very hard not to sulk like a teenager, she meandered to her usual spot at the booth, setting up her laptop perhaps a bit more slowly that was necessary. Really, what were the chances he was going to be here three times in a row anyway?

At that very moment the door to the shop opened, setting off the little bell above it, and she along with a few other customers glanced up on instinct. It was the very man she’d not been hoping to see at all, looking flustered and even a little breathless, scarf askew and glasses far enough down his nose they looked like they might fall off. To Ellana’s delight he immediately glanced to her table upon arriving, and shot her a smile when they met eyes. She returned it, allowing her fingers to lift in a small greeting this time, before he proceeded to the short line at the counter to order his own drink. The position put him behind one of the tall kiosks offering purchasable mugs and gift cards, out of her sight, and Ellana dropped her forehead into one of her hands. This was getting ridiculous.

In short order he was set up at the table beside hers, and they exchanged glances and smiles once more. Really, his grin was not fair. It was boyish and charming and did funny things to her stomach. Her eyebrows then rose as he opened the lid of his drink and proceeded to empty an obscene amount of sugar into it. True, she had much less of a sweet tooth than other people, but this was excessive. She tried not to stare, but did grin a little when she was reminded of her online rival. Evidently she was cursed to be surrounded by sugar-loving nut-cases. Ah, well.

The next hour passed with little activity, other than a few secret looks that she was beginning to suspect both of them were aware of, and she was in the process of editing her post for mistakes. She lifted her cup at one point to take a sip of her latte only to realize it was empty, frowned when she realized she had done that twice already, and placed it at the edge of her table to be thrown away when she left. She cast a look over at the table beside her, realized her stranger had gotten up to get a second drink, as he had during their two previous encounters, and returned to her work. She was surprised a few moments later however, when a pale hand set a fresh cup next to her laptop, and looked up to see the sweet-toothed mystery man handing to her with another unfair smile.

“I heard you order it the last time you were here,” he explained when she slipped her headphones off curiously. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“I - uh - no, not at all,” she stuttered, returning his smile as he returned to his seat. “Thank you.”

He gave her a nod as she put her headphones back into place, and she sipped at the spiced latte happily, trying not to beam like an idiot. If she wasn’t mistaken, the tips of his ears were pink.

Not long afterward, she submitted her post and gathered her things to leave, coffee in hand, exchanging a final smile with the man. On the way back to her apartment she noticed something on the cup, and was unable to contain the wide smile that came to her face that time. The barista had written the man’s name on the cup, as they did with most orders. Solas.

Chapter Text

“Thank you, come back soon.”

Ellana handed the customer behind the counter their bag, laden down with a few books, a fake smile painted on her face until they turned away. It had been a long day and she was eager to leave, but a glance at the clock showed she still had an hour left. Repressing a sigh, she gave a nod to Cassandra as the woman returned to the register from her break, leaving Ellana to return to stocking the shelves full of new arrivals. A monotonous task that left her far too much space for thinking. As had been happening more often of late, her mind returned to her recent coffee companion, and refused to admit she was wondering she would wear that coming Thursday.

A notification from her phone distracted her before she could frustrate herself too much with her infatuated thoughts, and she pulled it from her pocket after a brief glance around to check for customers. She’d received a small number of comments on her latest recipe. Ellana smiled at the complimentary words, but paused over the most recent one, which was asking over the competition she and F.H. had briefly proposed some months back. Honestly, she wasn’t sure what a competition between the two of them would entail, but she had to admit, the idea of taking on a challenge was appealing. She slid her phone back into her pocket and pondered over what to say to her not-adversary, wondering if he would even be interested in such a thing. Or have the time. He had his own life after all.

Come to think of it, would she have the time? Between her job and how much of her life the blog had taken up, she was surprisingly busy. Not to mention she’d been thinking about possibly, maybe, perhaps going back to college. Maybe. The thought made her nervous. College hadn’t gone well for her the first time around, and she would hate to mess up again and dig herself into a hole she couldn’t get out of. Working at the bookstore however wasn’t doing much for her financially, and she certainly didn’t want to be working there forever. Trouble was, she wasn’t entirely certain what she did want to do.

A long sigh escaped her, and she pinched the bridge of her nose briefly in an attempt to stave off the brewing headache. She’d followed this exact train of thought a hundred times, and a hundred times it had taken her nowhere. Her future remained uncertain and hazy, and thus far she hadn’t found a way to make it any clearer.

When she finally left the shop later with a tired wave to Cassandra at the counter, Ellana noticed it had begun to rain and frowned at her lack of an umbrella. Luckily it was only a light drizzle for the moment and her hood was sufficient, even if it would be a cold and soggy walk to the bus stop. She only hoped the rain stayed light long enough for her to make it into her apartment without getting soaked.

Once on the blessedly warm bus, she took to gazing out the window at the greying city, a small smile pulling at her lips. Cold though it made her, she quite enjoyed the rain, and the quiet peace it could bring to such a bustling place. The world seemed to slow down briefly, to a comforting, almost nostalgic rhythm. And as ever, the rain made Ellana crave cookies.

She laughed under her breath at the familiar desire as the bus pulled to a stop, standing to leave with an unnoticed smile at the driver. The rain didn’t seem to have grown heavier quite yet, and she progressed eagerly onward, deciding she would post a cookie recipe to her blog, given the hankering she had for them anyway. Her path towards her shared apartment took her right past the coffee shop she’d been frequenting, and she slowed as she passed, the pleasing aroma of coffee beans reaching her as a customer exited the café. She was fairly certain they sold bags of ground coffee inside, and the thought of coffee chocolate chip cookies had her mouth watering. She sighed a little at her growing addiction, but stepped inside all the same, with a wary glance to the cloudy sky above. Hopefully the rain would hold just a little longer.

The line was thankfully quite short, likely due to the weather, and when Ellana stepped up to the counter she was surprised when the barista greeted her by name and asked if she wanted her usual. Attempting to keep her face from turning pink - clearly, she came here too often - she asked for the ground coffee instead, resisting the temptation to get her usual latte. Once the barista had turned to go and get her a bag, Ellana indulged a quick glance in the direction of the table she’d been sitting at on Thursdays. The man - Solas - was of course not there, as she’d expected, nor was anyone else. She supposed it was silly to be pleased that no one else had occupied the space, as she obviously had no claim to the spot, but she was anyway. I’m hopeless, she thought with an eye-roll.

The barista came back with her bag of ground coffee and a cheerful smile, and Ellana peeked at her nametag to see she was evidently called Josephine; if the barista was going to know her name, Ellana figured she might as well do the same. Just as she thanked the human and turned to leave, the rain suddenly increased to a heavy downpour with a roll of thunder, loud enough to make a few patrons glance up.

Ellana released a long sigh, as she probably deserved that for wasting money, and stuffed the bag into her coat, resigning herself to a drenched walk home.

“Ah yes, cookies!”

Ellana glanced up from the batch she’d just pulled from the oven to see Sera and Dorian walking in together. Nimbly, she managed to whisk the cookie sheet away from Sera’s grabbing fingers as she entered the kitchen.

“How many times do I have to tell you to let things cool first?” she laughed, then nodded to a plate of previous batches on the table. “Lucky for you I started a while ago.”

Sera rounded on the plate ravenously, taking an eager handful, before dashing off to her room with a shouted “thanks!” over her shoulder.

Ellana sighed a bit at the large space left behind on the plate, but was unsurprised. By now, she’d gotten used to increasing the size of her recipes in Sera’s presence. Dorian eyed the plate warily after Ellana’s exasperated noise, but took one gratefully when she waved a hand at him to have at, seating himself in one of the cheap bar stools they’d bought for their counter.

“So what’s the occasion?” he asked after a bite. “I thought you normally found cookies too sweet.”

“I do,” she said, scooping more dough onto a second sheet while the first cooled. “But it’s raining.”

“Ah, right, I’d forgotten,” he said, aware of her strange inclination and the reason behind it.

“This is even better than your last batch,” he complimented after finishing. “Did you do something different?”

She nodded. “I bought some grounds from that coffee shop down the road.”

“You did?” He asked, visibly surprised. “The ‘overpriced monstrosity that’s going to make the street unreasonably crowded?’ That coffee shop?”

“I never said that,” Ellana countered, despite knowing full well she had.

“You most certainly did. I never would have expected you to buy anything from there, what changed your mind?”

Ellana shrugged noncommittally, avoiding his eyes as she slid the sheet into the oven. “I was just walking by and it smelled nice and I realized we didn’t have enough coffee here.”

Suspicious, Dorian narrowed his eyes at his friend, who continued to innocently avoid his gaze as she set about cleaning up her workspace. Baking could be a messy business if one wasn’t careful.

Sera came out of her room then, cookie-less and in a set of dryer, warm clothes. “What you making that face for?” she asked Dorian as she flopped inelegantly onto a bar stool next to him, nearly tipping it over.

“Our Ellana here has a secret,” he said conspiratorially, drawing an excited noise from Sera and another sigh from the woman in question.

“Ooh, I like secrets. Tell me.”

“If I told you it wouldn’t be much of a secret, would it?” Ellana asked, then inwardly cursed herself when she realized what she’d done.

“Ah, so there is a secret!” Dorian said triumphantly, grinning. “So why did you really get the coffee from there?”

“Is buying coffee from a popular chain a crime now?” she drawled wryly, dodging the question.

“Might as well be, the way you went on about that place,” Sera said.

Ellana pursed her lips, choosing her words carefully. “I was thinking of posting a recipe for coffee chocolate chip cookies this week, and this brand of coffee is popular, so it’s a good choice.” None of that was a lie.

Her friends continued to eye her suspiciously.

Ellana huffed. “If you’re going to continue to interrogate me I won’t let you have any more cookies,” she threatened, reaching for the plate on the table.

“No!” they both protested in unison, prompting a smirk from Ellana.

Dorian rolled his eyes. “Oh fine, fine,” he conceded, rising to snatch another cookie off the plate with a huff of his own. He then used it to gesture at her with narrowed eyes. “But we’ll figure out what you’re hiding eventually.”

“I don’t have anything to hide,” she lied, turning to continue cooking. “But even if I did, I’m sure I could keep you two from figuring it out. You’re nothing but chaos when you’re together.”

“Is that a challenge?” she heard Sera laugh behind her.

“...No,” she said hesitantly, aware of the hole she’d just dug herself into.

“Too late for that dear, we’re set on it now,” Dorian said with a wink at Sera. Who then proceeded to snag another two cookies off the plate.

They both laughed at Ellana’s sigh.

What about it @F.H.? Up for a challenge?

Ellana bit her lip in consideration, thumb hovering over the send button. On the one hand she couldn’t help enjoying the idea of some friendly competition, and she even had an idea of how to go about it, but doing this would no doubt increase the amount of activity her already busy blog received. On the other, it was getting harder to say she didn’t enjoy the time she put into it. She was the first to admit she had a stubborn streak.

On top of that, she honestly didn’t want to bother her online counterpart, whoever they might be. He’d kept to himself as much as she had, and while good-natured teasing was one thing, trying to draw him out into something more might be crossing the line. She’d gone over it a dozen times over the last day and a half, and each time she resolved to reply to the post asking about their proposed contest, she’d chicken out and put her phone back down with a huff. She hated being indecisive, but couldn’t quite bring herself to take the plunge.

A glance at the clock showed it was well past midnight, and she was in bed staring at her phone screen, avoiding both making a decision and sleep at once. Really, this was ridiculous. With a sigh at her childishness, Ellana screwed her eyes shut tight and hit send, immediately hitting the button to turn the screen off afterward, and dragged the covers over her. Whatever happened, happened.

Ellana took a moment to smooth the wrinkles out of her shirt before turning the corner that would lead her in front of the windows of the coffeeshop, not wanting to be seen fidgeting. By anyone. Not one particular person. Nope.

Rolling her eyes at her own thoughts, Ellana took a steadying breath and strode around to the front of the shop, having to resist the urge to keep her chin raised. She could admit - begrudgingly - that she was purposely trying to seem casual and that she was not actually hoping her coffee companion would be there again this week. But she didn’t want it to be obvious either. A fine line to walk.

She then had to restrain the urge to beam like a child when she remembered that she knew his name. Solas.

Ugh. Could she be any more besotted?

As it turned out the answer was yes, because once she’d sat down with her latte, pleased as ever that Solas was present at their usual time, she noticed he was wearing a blue sweater and it brought out his eyes and yeah she was definitely in trouble because she actually forgot how to breathe for a second. Ridiculous.

She pulled out her laptop with careful fingers, determined to not let her foolish crush turn her limbs clumsy, and breathed a sigh of relief when she managed to get it all set up without dropping anything. Then of course ruined it when her arm bumped against her cup and sent it flying to the ground.

The Gods must have been smiling on her however, because Solas evidently had amazing reflexes and managed to snatch her cup before it could tip over entirely. Only a few drops had spilled before he righted it on her table.

Stunned and blushing profusely, Ellana stuttered out a thank you, which he smiled politely at, before returning his gaze to his own screen. Really, if the ground could just open up and swallow her, she’d appreciate it. Now her plan was going to be even more awkward.

The ground remained woefully closed as she bent over to clean up the small mess with a few napkins, face flaming, before sliding her headphones on and trying to get lost in her music and focus on her post. Eventually the atmosphere and jazz worked its usual magic, and she finally managed to get over her embarrassment. A quick check to her proposal to F.H. showed he had not yet replied and she shrugged. It hadn’t even been a full day yet, he may yet say something.

Over an hour had gone by, with her absolutely not glancing at Solas and trying not to sigh over his handsome features, when movement caught her eye and she noticed he was getting up to leave. It was now or never.

“Um, wait,” she said hesitantly as she slid her headphones off. He turned to meet her gaze and really who gave him the right ot have eyes that pretty? “I, uh, have something for you.” She reached into her bag, trying not to blush under his curious stare, and finally managed to fish out the small bag of cookies she’d saved for him. “For buying me coffee last week,” she explained as she handed it to him. “And for saving this one, I guess,” she added with a smile, gesturing to her cup. There was a beat of silence and her talent for monumental worrying reared its head. Oh Gods, was giving food to a stranger weird? It was probably weird. But she’d already gone and done it, there was no way out now, and -

“Thank you,” he said with another charming smile, and relief flooded her system. “There was no need though.”

She shook her head, hoping she wasn’t grinning like a fool. “I mean, I was making them anyway. It was really no trouble. I hope you like them.”

He thanked her again with a nod, and she gave a small wave goodbye as he left, covering her red face with her hand when he was out of sight. If he hadn’t noticed her infatuation by now, it would be a miracle.

With a steadying breath, she returned her attention to her screen to focus on her post, and noticed she had a message. From F.H. She opened it eagerly and grinned at the response she’d apparently received only minutes ago.

Always. What did you have in mind?